Monday, May 18, 2009

How Does Redwood City Define HSR "Stakeholder"?

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

Redwood City has been one of the better local governments on the Peninsula when it comes to dealing with the HSR/Caltrain project, unwilling to follow Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton down a NIMBY path of trying to impose unworkable changes onto the project, and certainly unwilling to threaten outright opposition to it. And yet Redwood City's staff are still capable of framing the debate in rather skewed terms.

Tonight the Redwood City Council is going to discuss a plan for public outreach (PDF) on the HSR/Caltrain project. It's nice to see a proactive approach to engaging city residents, rather than Palo Alto's quick cave to a small number of HSR critics.

In the comments on recent Peninsula-related posts here, there has been a robust discussion of NIMBYism, how to challenge it, whether it's a serious threat to the HSR project or is something we're giving too much attention to - the squeaky wheel getting the blog's grease. What the Redwood City plan suggests, though, is that the problem is with how the Peninsula cities define "stakeholders" in such a vital project. Redwood City's approach provides a too-narrow definition that excludes the most numerous group of stakeholders of all - the thousands of city residents whose lives will be improved, who will save money and time and be freed from the dangers of at-grade diesel trains by the HSR/Caltrain project.

(Note: it's not immediately clear to me if this is Redwood City's document or Caltrain's - I believe it's the city's, but even if it's Caltrain's the criticisms offered here still apply.)

Here's how the city's packet reads:

1. Overarching Principle: From a community relations standpoint, the development and implementation of the HSR/Caltrain electrification facilities must take place with profound attention to the interests of the surrounding communities, stakeholders, and sensitive audiences, offer an augmented level of community outreach, communication, and involvement, and minimize negative impacts and effects on the communities in which the project will operate.

Although that sounds reasonable, the way it's framed is setting HSR/Caltrain up to fail, even in Redwood City. The goal here shouldn't be to just "minimize negative impacts" - shouldn't we also be trying to "maximize positive impacts"? Of more concern is the list of proposed stakeholders:

2. Redwood City Stakeholders:
a. Property owners/residents/businesses within 1/2 mile of the alignment
b. Sequoia Station retailers
c. Boards and Commissions (Bike/Ped, Housing, Planning, Historic Resources)
d. Downtown Business Group
e. Chamber of Commerce
f. City staff
g. City elected officials
h. Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson
i. Assemblyman Ira Ruskin
j. Senator Joe Simitian
k. Neighborhood Associations
l. Redwood City Elementary School District
m. Faith communities within 1/2 mile of alignment
n. Advocates for a HSR station in Redwood City
o. Opponents of an HSR station in Redwood City

3. Sensitive/critical audiences
a. Residents and business within 1/4 mile of the alignment (particular attention to bilingual outreach)
b. Schools within 3/4 mile of the alignment
c. Motorists - in general
d. Caltrain users
e. Bicyclists/pedestrians

It's not that I object to the inclusion of specific groups or individuals here. Instead it's the premise, that privileges those next to the alignment at the exclusion of those who are not.

Don't other Redwood City residents deserve consideration? Even if they don't currently use Caltrain, but might use an electrified Caltrain or use HSR? Redwood City and Caltrain wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't find a way to do outreach to those near the line, but neither should they stop there. A full picture of the community's thoughts, and the fairest possible assessment, can only be gained if the city as a whole is involved.

It's not right that those nearest the line get more consideration. Everyone has to live with the effects of HSR/Caltrain, whether it's built or not. This is true of drivers, pedestrians, and so on. Yet we live in a state where our public review process, and our community outreach process, is skewed toward those who live near a proposed piece of infrastructure, often to the exclusion of everyone else.

In extreme cases, that would be good. When the Century Freeway (Interstate 105) was built, it destroyed numerous and entire neighborhoods. That's a classic case of where the interests of those most directly impacted by infrastructure should be emphasized. And yet when you're talking about rebuilding and improving an existing rail corridor, you're not talking about people losing homes, or whole neighborhoods being plowed under.

Redwood City's proposed public outreach plan is a good start. But for it to be an effective plan, it needs to cast a wider net, and ensure that the voices of the city's numerous HSR supporters are not unfairly excluded from the process, as they seem to have been next door in Menlo Park, Atherton, and Palo Alto.

76 comments:

observer redwood said...

@Robert

who writes:

"And yet when you're talking about rebuilding and improving an existing rail corridor, you're not talking about people losing homes, or whole neighborhoods being plowed under."

Do you not understand that parts of the corridor are too narrow to accommodate the required 4 tracks minimum. Do you not understand that requiring elevated structures and electrical wires above will change the quality of life of those near the tracks?

Redwood city is the most positive City along the peninsula favoring this project. Jim Hartnett is on the PCJCB and his wife is a major promoter of high density land development. He really should recuse himself from discussion of HSR, since he is conflicted by the interests of that board and its ally the Authority.

Whether you or Diridon want to believe it or not, Robert, there is an uproar going on along the peninsula. It will only get worse until the Authority changes its attitude and realizes that plowing through these communities above grade is not going to be accepted.

Alon Levy said...

Robert: I don't buy your explanation for not giving special consideration to the people living near the Caltrain line. The reasoning that,

when you're talking about rebuilding and improving an existing rail corridor, you're not talking about people losing homes, or whole neighborhoods being plowed under

is backward. The reason that improvements to rail lines are not so destructive as building freeways is precisely that they don't impact the people living nearby so much. In fact, residents usually support electrification and elimination of grade crossings - overhead catenary may reduce property values, but horn-blaring diesel locomotives reduce property values even more.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Alon, we have plenty of evidence that people on the Peninsula who would benefit in the ways you describe actually seem to be opposing the HSR project.

But my point is broader. If a government agency is going to give "special consideration" to any group, it must consider all groups, including those elsewhere in the city who need the HSR/Caltrain project for a number of reasons.

Alon Levy said...

Some people always try to torpedo rail improvements. And others try to push them no matter what. So far NIMBYism doesn't seem too widespread - the NIMBYs have resorted to ad hoc attacks on every public figure that doesn't agree with them. Hartnett's on the PCJCB! His wife supports - gasp - high-density land development!

nonimbys said...

94 percent of the railroad is wide enough for 4 tracks thats a fact. you must be looking at the railroad property that is vacant

arcady said...

It's not right that those nearest the line get more consideration. I'd argue that, right or not, it's a consideration that has deep roots in this country's politics and culture, specifically the politics and culture of homeownership. Homeownership is massively encouraged and privileged, both politically and culturally, and a significant part of the population has a big part of their net worth (and to some extent their self-worth as well) tied up in a house. We've been told that the house is an investment, and a very safe one at that. The worry of the NIMBYs to a significant extent comes down to the worry about the loss of value of their investment. It doesn't even matter that whatever the change is might increase the value: just the increased volatility is cause enough for worry. With things like home equity lines of credit, a decrease in house value is functionally almost like someone went and took money out of your bank account. And that's why Redwood City considers them to be stakeholders: because the project may have an adverse impact on their property values, and even if legally it's not HSRA's responsibility, the homeowners will view it as the HSRA's fault.

Robert Cruickshank said...

I completely agree with you, arcady, that's an excellent exposition of the nature of the matter.

And Alon, I'm not saying Redwood City has it wrong and is trying to kill HSR. They're not, not from what I can tell. But the way the community outreach was set up crystallized something in my mind, showed me why it is that NIMBYs and other such folk have disproportionate power in infrastructure decisions - because, too often, public outreach is set up that way.

I'd like to see a modernization of public outreach, designed to include whole communities, not just specific subsections of folks who happen to live next to or own property adjacent to the proposed route.

Anonymous said...

here is how the Federal Highway Administration suggests how to work with Stakeholders

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/pittd/contents.htm

note: they follow context sensitive solutions

arcady said...

I think the public outreach problem is basically that the potential impacts and thus concerns are concentrated on a few abutters, while the benefits, even if they are much larger overall, are much more diffuse. Thus, the NIMBYs have an incentive to show up and participate in the process, while for everyone else, the benefits of the project are lower than the costs of participation and they mostly stay home.

Resident said...

I don't know, I read that attachment, and my take away is that Redwood City is saying - we haven't engaged the community - at all - up to this point. We haven't done any impact analysis, we don't know who it impacts or how. Here's who we're about to start engaging. In other words, they're simply about 4-5 months behind Palo Alto.

So they're opening the floodgates. So what. I mean really Robert -what did you think -that they had spiked the water supply and that the entire city of Redwood City was going to sleep through the whole thing?

And uh, how RC defines stakeholders? Robert I think you're just pissy because you're now finding out that they're not on board with your myopic definition of stakeholders as

Anyone who loves CHSR with a blind and undying, unquestioning devotion - Supporter and legitimate stakeholder.

Anyone who has any issue, concern or question whatsoever with CHSR - NIMBY DENIER.

Anonymous said...

All the CHSRA has to do to resolve this problem is to relocate to the 101 corridor. It is a better solution. You can build all the elevateds you want.

Once you factor in the costs of the urban renewal(aka urban removal)that will be required to mitigate the blight caused by the HSR elevated the 101 alternative will be cheaper.

Eric said...

For the people owning adjacent properties, this is in many ways equivalent to freeway construction. This isn't just a minor "upgrade to an existing rail line." What's being contemplated here is the transformation of a commuter branch line into a major, 4 track high-speed trunk line for long distance trains. You might as well say the residents located along the 105 corridor had no right to complain - they'd chosen to live along a major urban street (in many cases in high-density transit-oriented development), surely they could have anticipated someone would want to turn their street into a freeway.

The current Caltrain peninsula line has never hosted more than a handful of daily long distance passenger trains - even the City of San Francisco didn't actually terminate in SF.

TBH I don't really understand CHSRA's objection to the 101 corridor - they claim that shutting down lanes during construction is a non-starter - but disrupting caltrain is OK? Makes no sense.

Jarrett Mullen said...

@ Anon 12:25

The 101 corridor is not viable since it impacts two significant goals of the HSR project and creates unnecessary barriers in local and regional transportation.

First, if the Caltrain corridor is not utilized, it will not be electrified and grade separated. This means Caltrain will not become a reliable feeder service to complement CAHSR. If the Caltrain corridor is utilized by CAHSR, Caltrain will essentially become a high frequency regional Metro, like BART, but the infrastructure upgrades will be packaged with CAHSR construction. Therefore, the peninsula will receive a high capacity, reliable, local rail service while CAHSR will benefit from a more efficient Caltrain to feed riders.

Second, the CAHSR authority stated that locating stations in urban centers is a priority for supporting sustainable growth. If CAHSR was to run on the 101 corridor, stations would be located far from existing town centers and transit hubs. If CAHSR stations are disconnected from the well established, walkable and transit friendly urban fabric around Caltrain stations, this project goal will have suffered a tremendous setback.

The Caltrain corridor eliminates all of the mobility issues associated with the 101 corridor. Since Caltrain will be upgraded, peninsula residents will receive better than BART frequency and reliability. The well established Caltrain stations and transit centers will provide painless connections between CAHSR, Caltrain and local transit. If the Caltrain corridor is not used, the Bay Area and region would suffer an extreme setback in transportation improvements, connectivity and sustainable land use.

K.T. said...

@ Anon 12:25

I don't think changing the CAHSR alignment to 101 corridor would solve the current issues at the Bay Area.

Sure it will reduce the opposition from the current group of people, but it will definitely create new opposition, including the residents living near 101.

Anonymous said...

If anyone bothered to listen to the Redwood City discussion last evening, (it was webcast) you would learn that this was nothing more than a public relations session between a very favorable council and CalTrain. The mayor immediately limited public input to only 1 minute (from the usual 3 minutes) as a measure to save time. (all of three speakers spoke all of then favorable to HSR)

Redwood City want a station, they are doing handsprings to get it. You won't hear any opposition from them.

But, on both sides of them now there is plenty of opposition. Belmont, San Mateo, Burlingame on the north, Atherton, Menlo Park Palo Alto and now it seems even Mountain View on the south.

Bianca said...

Eric, the Caltrain corridor on weekdays currently has 100+ trains going up and down between San Francisco and San Jose. That none of them are "long-distance passenger rail" seems quite beside the point. When the gates go down and the horns blow, the inconvenience is the same whether it's a commuter train or a freight train or passenger rail.

There is more than one constituency being impacted here. The folks who bought property abutting the ROW are one constituency. The entire surrounding community, the people that support Caltrain and live with an active railway running down the middle of our communities are another. The abutters are worried about their property values, and that's fair, although there is an argument to be made that property values will rise not fall. But the larger community has a stake in developing transit that is easy to access and safe for the community. Grade separation has been in the plans for Caltrain since well before Prop 1A passed. Grade separation is sorely needed to improve safety, reduce traffic delays and quiet those noisy horns. The entire community benefits from those improvements. To put the property interests of a few above the needs of the larger community requires a more compelling argument than any I've seen so far.

BruceMcF said...

K.T. said... "I don't think changing the CAHSR alignment to 101 corridor would solve the current issues at the Bay Area."

Certainly. Similar issues would arise from moving the HSR alignment to the 101 corridor, since then it becomes even more urgent to electrify and fully grade separate the Caltrain corridor.

And since that will be without the funding behind the CA-HSR, its unlikely to involve the same leeway in terms of viaducts, landscaping and other measures to soften the visual impact of the smaller net benefit of an improved Caltrain only corridor, so its far more likely to be fairly ugly and plebian looking grade separations.

And given greater leeway to squeeze down to triple from quad track, there will be fewer locations where local communities will be in a position to block any change, so less opportunity to influence the design is combined with fewer resources for a non-plebian design.

BruceMcF said...

Observer redwood: "Do you not understand that requiring elevated structures and electrical wires above will change the quality of life of those near the tracks?"

This is an important point. It should never be forgotten by those living near the tracks, and therefore certain to be in reasonable driving distance to a Caltrain station, that those electrical wires above the track will substantially improve the quality of their lives, since they will have access to high frequency, oil-free regional transport before the next oil price shock hits. That is a benefit that the majority of the country will come to envy.

BruceMcF said...

Robert: "Don't other Redwood City residents deserve consideration?"

From the list:
"k. Neighborhood Associations"

If there are no pro-HSR, pro-Caltrain alignment neighborhood associations in Redwood City, that is a failure in organization by HSR advocates.

And the way that the stakeholders are defined, anyone motorist, cyclist or pedestrian who crosses one of the level crossings in Redwood City, no matter where they live, are included as a "sensitive" audience ... and of course, everyone who drives, cycles or walks will benefit on the whole from full grade separation ... though careful engineering is required to ensure that all three groups benefit from each and every grade separation ... so its not like the biggest groups of beneficiaries are excluded.

BruceMcF said...

Anony-mouse, too shy (or possibly lazy) to even pick a pseudonym, claimed: "Once you factor in the costs of the urban renewal (aka urban removal) that will be required to mitigate the blight caused by the HSR elevated ..."

Its not a freeway, its an upgrade of an existing rail corridor. Rail is far more space efficient than roadway, so there is not a single "neighborhood" that needs to be removed in order to provide the substantial community benefit of a fully grade separated, Regional HSR line for both inter-regional and local rail services.

And the issue of property values is that the rail corridor improvements will increase property values in the Peninsula overall, but if not done carefully, the properties right next to the corridor will not share in that increase in property value.

HSR opponents are exploiting local resident fears about a threat of a decline in relative property values, while studiously ignoring the overall increase in absolute property values.

Anonymous said...

Anyone selling a house now even kind of near tracks is facing a $100-250,000 lower selling price on top already lower prices.

You may not think this matters but it is very real.

Bianca said...

Anonymous 8:32 said:

Anyone selling a house now even kind of near tracks is facing a $100-250,000 lower selling price on top already lower prices.The truth is that anyone who bought property kind of near the tracks paid less for it precisely because it is close to an active rail line. Property values are so nosebleedingly high around here that it might have only slightly eased the sting, but believe me, those properties have always come at a discount relative to houses farther away. But get rid of the grade crossings (and thus the horns), and run electric trains instead of diesel, and the drawbacks to living near the tracks would be significantly mitigated.

resident said...

Jarett Mullen: BS
caltrain can get electrified without HSR. To say otherwise is pure unadulterated lie.

Locate stations in urban centeres -excuse me? 101 is more central to where people travel than buried deep within neighborhood towns. The whole 'urban center' argument is complete nonsense - already proven to be garbage. There's no dense housing urban center in say Palo Alto, or Redwood City, that somehow becomes automatic ridership for trips to LA everyday - that's a bunch of hooey. The travelers to LA from Bay area come from all over the bay area - and the fastest most convenient, and most likely access for the majority of peninsulans to stations would be via a quick exit off 101. 101 is 1 mile to the east - its still the friggin urban center - as much as any other 'center' one could claim in the Peninsula. Mullen - you obviously have no understanding of the area. As for building dense urban centers (which are not there today) where do think towns like Palo Alto and RC are building? ALONG 101! They're not raizing their schools and parks to build high rises, and they're not going to. They're building along 101 which is the nearest thing to 'open space' they have left for building up. The ONLY correct place to put train stations in the Peninsula for maximum ridership, and to grow dense urban development is along 101. Its nothing but puzzling that the HSR supporters have glommed on to the Caltrain corridor - it doesn't make a lick of sense, and its going to kill their project.

Alon Levy said...

caltrain can get electrified without HSR.With whose money, exactly - the generous taxpayers of Palo Alto and Menlo Park?

resident said...

Actually Alon, as a feeder system to HSR at Diridon, Caltrain would easily qualify for the same kind of incremental upgrades that rail infrastructure all over the country is about to enjoy, using federal stimulus dollars.

Get this straight - Caltrain doesn't NEED HSR. and HSR doesn't NEED Caltrain (HSR actually really NEEDS to put itself on 101 or 880 corridor - to maximize its ridership potential).

There's no incremental benefit to duplicating an HSR parallel to Caltrain along this stretch anyway - its a whole bunch of wasted HSR funding on virtually zero incremental benefit. The 'hsr' speeds on the Peninsula will be low, barely higher than baby bullets today. An upgraded caltrain would accomplish the exact same thing - and save a hell of alot of money for true HSR through central California, or Sacramento or a ton of other high value added things they could put their money to good use on.

Alon Levy said...

It would be feasible, in principle, but the cost would be much higher. With a Caltrain HSR alignment, the costs include use of eminent domain on the 6% of the ROW that's too narrow, elimination of grade crossings, laying down two new tracks, and hanging catenary over everything. Most of these costs - including electrification and grade crossing elimination - have to be done either way if Caltrain is to be electrified. That's already too expensive to be paid out of the $950 million authorized by Prop 1A. HSR money won't be available because HSR would need to construct elevated tracks elsewhere, indeed on a curvier and hence inferior ROW.

In principle there could be additional state money for Caltrain electrification. But that would require you to convince the rest of California that Palo Alto's property values justify the added expenses.

Anonymous said...

Who is going to complain about the HSR being routed along the 101 corridor, except maybe the Reason Foundation?

Freeways are absolute wastelands - a steel mill is probably cleaner and quieter. You couldn't even hear the trains over the constant roar of the automobiles.

An elevated along the Caltrain ROW would still require as much surface fencing as an at grade approach. Probably razor wire in some areas to keep out taggers and malefactors. And what kind of use would the property under the elevated be degraded to? Almost certainly parking lots - a real environmental treasure - and very likely eventual crimeholes.

Clem said...

caltrain can get electrified without HSR ...

Technically, yes. As a practical, political matter, no. Caltrain doesn't have the political oomph to pull together that much capital investment: their leadership is too diffuse and accountable to narrow county interests involving far grander capital expenditure plans... follow my gaze to the MUNI central subway and the BART San Jose extension. Electrification has been planned for nearly 2 decades now and the schedule is slipping by one year every year, a situation that shows no hope of improvement without HSR.

Its nothing but puzzling that the HSR supporters have glommed on to the Caltrain corridor ...

It is not one bit surprising. The corridor is wide enough for four tracks.

The 'hsr' speeds on the Peninsula will be low, barely higher than baby bullets today ...

Not so. The fastest baby bullet today does SJ - SF in about one hour. HSR is planned for 30 minutes. HSR will cut the best baby bullet time in half!

An upgraded caltrain would accomplish the exact same thing - and save a hell of alot of money ...

No. An upgraded Caltrain with much higher traffic levels would require grade separations just as much as HSR. (Or BART! The long-standing plans to ring the bay by eventually connecting Millbrae to Santa Clara would also require total grade separation.) The big uproar is over grade separations, and those grade separations will still be needed, even if HSR goes elsewhere or nowhere. Caltrain is an underdeveloped transit corridor, and sometime within the next generation, it will be developed and grade seps will need to be built. Regardless of HSR.

Un train peut en cacher un autre.

NONIMBYS said...

OH resident...what your little friend sheyer or whatever here name is has not post more lie stories for you nimbys to harp about?

Bianca said...

Anonymous 10:35 said:

Who is going to complain about the HSR being routed along the 101 corridor, except maybe the Reason Foundation?

Just to clarify, are you implying that nobody lives near 101 to complain, or that only poor people live near 101, so it doesn't matter? Or perhaps you think that people who bought property near the freeway don't have standing to complain, because the freeway was already there when they bought their property? (cough)

Given how upset some folks in Flood Triangle are about replacing a simple pedestrian bridge, I expect that moving the route to 101 (even if it were possible) will just swap out one set of NIMBYs for another. In the meantime, it would make HSR stations inaccessible to pedestrians.

jim said...

Well, HSR isn't going to be moved to any other other location as the voters voted on the current alignment. I mean I understand that people don't like change but its too bad. I hate the crap they building in and chaige about my city, but there's not much I can do about it. Change happens. it has happened in every single community in every single bay area county and will continue to do so. There isn't anything you can do to stop it.

jim said...

Personally I don't care how hsr gets to sf as long as its close to my house. Whether I go through Atherton's back yard, or somebody else's back yard doesn't matter so long as I get through quickly. I don't even want HSR bringing all thoe new people into town and into my neighborhood really. but I do want to have easy access to it so what can you do. you have to take the good with the bad.

Anonymous said...

The 101 alignment has advantages which are being overlooked or downplayed.

One is that it is a separate facility which will not be impacted by any Caltrain disruptions.

Another is that it will enjoy the environmental exceptions, dispensations, waivers, etc. that the incredibly powerful highway lobby enjoys. Who else could get away with the incredible decibel levels and noxious emissions associated with freeways? You wouldn't even need sound barriers on the elevated.

Security is another feature of the 101 corridor. The HSR is high profile and a potential target of jihadists. The 101 alignment offers a vastly wider buffer zone as opposed to Caltrain, where buildings abut the ROW.

CHSRA is displaying more intransigeance on this issue than the so-called NIMBY's.

jim said...

Now the argument is jihadists? lol. Can I use that one in SF to stop the high rises? lol.

jim said...

Now I have a good reason to argue for tearing down that god awful One Rincon tower. http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2155/2419085202_0860db79cc.jpg It is easily accessible to jihadists and its right next tot he bay bridge. It can be blown up and made to fall on the bridge. That would be a real mess and it would cost billions to rebuild the bridge. This potential boondoggle must removed now.

Bianca said...

Jihadists? Seriously? Of all the soft targets available in the US, you think that the HSR line in suburban northern California will be near the top of the list? The sense of self-importance is so overblown as to be comical.

But just to take your assertion at face value: if you really think that HSR is a target for "jihadists", then please explain why moving the line run directly over a crowded freeway would be better? That vastly wider buffer zone you speak of would actually be filled with people in cars.

James Jonas said...

I do agree that the stakeholders section of the document does need to be expanded, but the more important aspect of the document, which I wished to be refined, was the need for a two-way moderated dialogue with the residents. Take a look at what happened here:

http://smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?id=110514

“While other Peninsula cities used informational high-speed rail discussions to promote underground tunnels or call for regional representation, Redwood City officials has a more simple request: Workshops.
Rather than tick off a list of demands, the Redwood City Council asked high-speed officials to meet with residents and stakeholders for greater input.
The City Council needs to learn from the residents and feed it back to the high-speed rail officials, said Councilwoman Barbara Pierce, echoing a sentiment shared by her peers.” The Daily Journal, May 19th 2009, page 1 www.smdailyjournal.com

With regards to the stakeholders, give me a clear simple idea whom you think should be included and I’ll deliver it, after my own edits, to Malcolm Smith (Public Communications Manager) and will cc Peter Ingram (City Manager).

James
http://HatTrench.com

jim said...

My impression of redwood city is that it has a more blue collar. and practical population compared to the tpe of folks who reside in Atherton and PA. Redwood city doesn't suffer from the kind of overblown importance displayed by its neighbors. The downtown area RC is alwo a great place for a station and if they are interested in working with CAHSR more power to them. They will be the ones to reap the economic benefits while their neighbors will go without, bitterly into the night.

jim said...

That prefab HAT Trench is actually a very cool design. It wouldn't have to be used for the entire length, just the overly sensitive areas. It could be assemble quickly. A very nice idea

Anonymous said...

Rincon One like all modern high-rises has sealed windows. Those old buildings along the Caltrain ROW don't.

If you live in one of these aforesaid buildings and you take pictures, videos or observe passing HSR trains with binoculars or a telescope I think you can expect to find yourself under Homeland Security investigation.

It is much easier to attack from a stationary location above than to attack from a moving location below. All you have to do is to lob an object onto the tracks or onto the catenary or onto an actual train to cause some serious problems.

It wouldn't surprise me if people who have windows facing the HSR elevated wouldn't be required to seal them. Especially after an incident.

Clem said...

@jim, this may be explained by a simple fact: there are few residential neighborhoods abutting the tracks in RWC-- and those that do already have four tracks or are located in unincorporated areas outside of city limits. Pretty much all the grade crossings in town are in light industrial / commercial areas where grade separations are already planned. For example, Caltrain already bought the land around the Whipple Ave grade crossing needed to elevate the tracks, and they already have grand plans for a new mid-peninsula interchange station to facilitate cross-platform transfers (instead of the 5-minute "timed transfers" they perform today) as well as Dumbarton service. There was a lot of stuff in the planning pipeline before HSR came along.

Clem said...

It is much easier to attack from a stationary location above than to attack from a moving location below ...

Is this quote from your manual of NIMBY field tactics?

Anonymous said...

Build on 101, why? Because who cares about poor people. I'm suprised that our friends resident et al. haven't suggested that CHSRA rip out East Palo Alto entirely, solving PA's 30 year-old wet dream...and they claim to not be motivated by self intrest alone.

What we are seeing at play here are the exact same forces at play that have taken the middle class penisula I grew up on turned it into a play ground for millionares.

Too much power over development rests in the hands of local government. These local governments in turn are soly motivated by either political self preservation or political advancement. No one is willing to make any bold action, such as increasing density in town centers or pushing transit/non-car transportation solutions for fear of rousing the local NIMBY league of homeowners and losing control of their own political fiefdom.

I spent a decade in Santa Cruz durring the dot com boom. The local homeowners had been fighting tooth and nail against infill and multiunit development for fear that their quiet beach town whould become a bedroom community for San Jose.

Well, guess what? That happened anyway and thirty years of fighting any and all development simply raised the premium on the existing ancient housing and drove out anyone who wasn't already a homeowner or a millionare.

Our state is headed down the same road. Just because you stick your head in the ground the problem of transportation will not just go away.

To the people of my generation (under 30) your attitude sounds like "We've got ours, F*ck you!" Is that the true American dream?

-John

jim said...

@john - don't worry, the older generation will be in the old folks home soon and you youngsters can pull the plugs on them. ( spare me though- as I support hsr okay?)

jim said...

@john- besides - your generation ( under 30) are going to be the ones paying for it so you should have it.

Bianca said...

Anonymous 1:10pm wrote:

If you live in one of these aforesaid buildings and you take pictures, videos or observe passing HSR trains with binoculars or a telescope I think you can expect to find yourself under Homeland Security investigation.

This is off-topic, but important to debunk. There are not very many legal restrictions on what can be photographed when in public view. Neither the Patriot Act nor the Homeland Security Act have any provisions that restrict photography. If you are on your property, or on public property, you can legally photograph just about anything that is in public view.

The idea that some government agency (which? Anonymous doesn't say) will force homeowners to seal their windows because of HSR is ridiculously Orwellian. Why seal windows if people are still allowed to use their backyards, their balconies, god forbid maybe a roof deck? Please.

jim said...

We already have a photo policy at the railroad and it is very liberal allowing photos in public places.

jim said...

judging by the numbers of pics and videos of high speed and other trains on you tube and google - we would have had to build more prisons just to incarcerate the photo offenders if it were really an issue.

James Jonas said...

@jim – HatTrench Design (http://hattrench.com). Besides use of prefab design-build techniques, it presents a lower sound/visual profile, accommodates freight requirements (upper tier) and fits a smaller footprint with less impact on surrounding buildings/homes. It is balance between the costly tunnel only strategy and a trenching strategy. It just an idea that I’m putting out there to see what happens. If only I had some engineers to help spin up some solid model CAD drawings…hummm

Bianca said...

@James Jonas,

I am not an engineer. I very much like that people are thinking of new ways to solve this particular puzzle.

Looking at the Hat Trench design, though, I notice that the design has the heavier trains on top, and the lighter trains underneath. I understand why that layout makes sense, but I wonder how much structural support would be required to run freight trains above HSR. What would the dimensions of the Hat Trench be?

BruceMcF said...

Anony-mouse said, it would seem deciding against a pseudonym to avoid being associated with such an absurd comment:

"An elevated along the Caltrain ROW would still require as much surface fencing as an at grade approach. Probably razor wire in some areas to keep out taggers and malefactors. And what kind of use would the property under the elevated be degraded to?"

First floor shops, restaurants, open air arcades, condominium apartments. After all, if there is no commercial value to the ground level, then it can, for example, be a green embankment on the residential side and an infill wall on the side facing the busy thoroughfare. If desired, the infill wall can be a living wall.

Only, of course, if the Caltrain corridor is used for the HSR as well ... otherwise when the fully grade separated Caltrain EL is put through, it'll be a grungy plebian structure, because the Bay area won't be able to afford better, on its own.

arcady said...

Whoa, the comments have exploded. One thing I'd like to mention though: the agreement between Caltrain and HSR calls for full sharing of tracks between the two. It's very likely that both Palo Alto and Redwood City will get platforms on all four tracks. Then it's just a matter of deciding which station the HSR trains will stop at (or if it's more effective to do a cross platform transfer from Caltrain at San Jose).

Clem said...

It's very likely that both Palo Alto and Redwood City will get platforms on all four tracks. Then it's just a matter of deciding which station the HSR trains will stop at ...

If only it were that simple. The two agencies show no indication of working to a common platform height standard. Despite the opportunity for track sharing, platforms cannot be shared. Meanwhile, Caltrain is planning RWC as a mid-line cross-platform transfer. That means one station would need LLLL platforms, and the other LHHL or HLLH. Sheer lunacy if you ask me!

Joseph N. Hall said...

caltrain can get electrified without HSR. To say otherwise is pure unadulterated lie.Union Pacific has noted that its freight trains will NOT fit under wires that would be used for electrification. The likelihood of Union Pacific and the Port of San Francisco simply giving up rail freight service is zero, and unlike homeowners, U.P. and the Port of SF have some real financial and political clout. Plus, unlike homeowners, U.P. has sole ownership rights to some of the track south of San Jose that Caltrain operates on.

Joseph N. Hall said...

Locate stations in urban centeres -excuse me? 101 is more central to where people travel than buried deep within neighborhood towns. The whole 'urban center' argument is complete nonsense - already proven to be garbage. There's no dense housing urban center in say Palo Alto, or Redwood City, that somehow becomes automatic ridership for trips to LA everyday - that's a bunch of hooey. The travelers to LA from Bay area come from all over the bay area - and the fastest most convenient, and most likely access for the majority of peninsulans to stations would be via a quick exit off 101.So, you want people to drive to the train? Are you kidding me?

Dan S said...

Robert Cruickshank said...

I'd like to see a modernization of public outreach, designed to include whole communities, not just specific subsections of folks who happen to live next to or own property adjacent to the proposed route.
That's a good idea not only to increase the net benefit of a program to a community, but also to help keep the community thinking and working as a group, instead of just being an outlet for bereaved individuals. It's also in the best interests of elected officials to set things up this way, because it's not just the votes along the tracks that get them elected, it's really all the votes!



resident said...

"There's no dense housing urban center in say Palo Alto..."
Well, it's not that big a city, but I loved living in downtown Palo Alto for two years. I lived about 2.5 blocks off of University, and I could walk to the Caltrain station in about 10 minutes. I took the train to work in both SF and SJ. I could walk to Palo Alto's fantastic downtown for great restaurants and coffee shops and to Whole Foods for meats and veggies. (Okay, I drove to Safeway for everything else!) My neighbors felt the same way.

I do agree with resident that Caltrain can get electrified and grade-separated without CAHSR, but it will certainly take a long time... a looooooooooong time! (You know that cell-phone commercial where the sales rep gets his buddy to tag him out while they say how loooooooong the contract is? Yeah, that long!)

But I don't understand the fear of connecting PA's downtown with a state-wide HSR system. (Will it bring more people downtown? Yes, I think so. But it doesn't have to change the residential neighborhoods.)

In fact, I think this kind of connection is vital to making the way we as Americans transport ourselves become more convenient and sustainable, and it's one of rail's clear advantages as a mode of transportation. As someone currently living abroad, I can't believe how behind-the-times America seems in this regard right now.

arcady said...

Union Pacific has noted that its freight trains will NOT fit under wires that would be used for electrification.
Yes, this has been noted and addressed by Caltrain in their original electrification report. In 1992. Briefly, doublestack trains will only be able to fit under some bridges if the power is turned off (there will be structural, but not electrical, clearance). Right now, there's no access to the Port for doublestack trains due to clearance restrictions in the tunnels, but the plan is to build a gauntlet track through the two south tunnels. This track will be directly in the center of the tunnel, and will provide adequate clearance for doublestack trains (but of course can only be used when no other trains are running). The overhead wires for the two main tracks will be offset slightly to the outside of the tunnel in order to ensure that the train on the gauntlet track will clear them.

Bay Area Resident said...

I'm hearing some of the San Jose communities that complained the loudest about HSR have GOTTEN their realignment to the freeways. Any confirmation on this? Not sure the specific area but must be either Edenvale or Willow Glen. So San Jose gets redirected to the freeways, hows THAT going to sit with Peninsulans? ~evil grin~ The freeways are a few blocks away from the Caltrain tracks in SJ which is the difference I suppose.

James Jonas said...

@Bianca
HatTrench.com - Good point with regards to structural issue. For the specific dimensions, I’m going to have to research the issue. I’ll post the answer on the website.

Clem said...

What would the dimensions of the Hat Trench be?That's not too hard to figure out. It's driven by (a) vertical clearance requirements, and (b) tunnel cross section requirements, for aerodynamic reasons.

(a) for lower-story HSR, built to the shorter European UIC loading gauge, you need about 17 feet from top of rail to the overhead wire. Add another 4 feet of clearance from the high voltage wire to the tunnel ceiling. Under all that, assume about 6 feet of tunnel wall, track bed, and the track itself. Above all that, assume 5 feet of deck + track bed thickness to support the heavy trains above on the second story.

(b) To run trains in opposing directions at closing velocities of 250 mph, you need some aerodynamic buffer space both for vehicle stability and passenger comfort. Two-track tunnel sections would need about 80 to 100 m2 (800 to 1000 square feet) of open-air cross sectional area for 125 mph operation. That is probably a far more stringent constraint than (a) and may drive the height of the "downstairs" tunnel higher than I first described.

Then, above all that, add AAR Plate H or K clearance for freight trains (20 feet), and about another 10 feet of catenary poles and wires.

The depth of such a structure would be at least 50 feet from the top of a freight train (assumed level with the surrounding grade) to the bottom of the foundation. Wires and poles would stick up another 10 feet above ground.

Then, add the complication of ventilation and passenger evacuation. Then add the complication of periodically connecting the two levels so trains on the lower level can access stations (or do you double-deck stations too?)

In the end, the Hat Trench sounds an awful lot like this. But hey, kudos for trying to come up with solutions!

BruceMcF said...

Clem said...
"Meanwhile, Caltrain is planning RWC as a mid-line cross-platform transfer. That means one station would need LLLL platforms, and the other LHHL or HLLH. Sheer lunacy if you ask me!"

Lunacy even if nobody thinks to ask.

If the track layout is FSSF, then a "mid-line cross-platform transfer station" means express/local the same direction? Which is to say a double island?

F{}SS{}F
F{}SS{}F
F{}SS{}F

Lord, how do you make that the HSR station too ... with side platforms?

...FSSF...
.}F|SS|F{.
}F{}SS{}F{
}F{}SS{}F{
}F{}SS{}F{
.}F|SS|F{.
...FSSF...


Wow. Just wow.

Or else a double length platform with a ramp up ...

F{H]SS[H}F
F{H]SS[H}F
F[/]SS[/]F
F{L}SS{L}F
F{L}SS{L}F

{Scratching head}

jim said...

too many details. can someone just turn a shovel of dirt somewhere please or should I just plan on continuing to add up air miles.

James Jonas said...

@clem
HatTrench.com - dimensions – Clem, great post, thx for the facts and figures. What is the final height and width according to your math? Folks looking at ROR impacts are interested.

The objective in presenting the HatTrench alternative (a 2x2 stacked tunnel/trench – using a modified cut & cover construction technique with a mix off-site pre-fab) was to see if we cannot offer a means lowing the cost relative to a tunnel only solutions, increase the build-out speed, while meeting the a design objective of low visual/sound profile and smaller ROR footprints. At the end of the day, I would like to get folks to challenge the concept with even better ideas.

I see HSR as an opportunity to potentially unite instead of divide our communities. Pressing the tunnel only solution or Stop HSR means that our cities may see actual the power of a rail ROR, which would be unfortunate. I’ll work to open the doors here in Redwood City for a place for a two-way dialogue. Come to the table with alternatives. Let’s engage in a discussion about real-world solutions.

James Jonas said...

ROW (Right-of-Way), not ROR.

Adirondacker said...

Sheer lunacy.. scratching head .

Which is the reaction I have when I consider that any rational person is seriously considering that they won't pick the same platform height. What incentive do they have to NOT pick the same platform height?

Lord, how do you make that the HSR station too.

With the same platform height to make a station into an HSR station you hang some new signs, install some ticket vending machines and if they want to get real fancy a ticket agent.

Clem said...

Which is the reaction I have when I consider that any rational person is seriously considering that they won't pick the same platform height ...

Get with it: this is California. We "think different" here. Seriously, the TJPA is building us a train station in San Francisco with different platform heights for Caltrain and HSR. Nobody's laughing except the blogosphere.

San Jose, a simple through-station where two HSR platform tracks would do, is being planned as a fancy double decker station with a slew of dedicated HSR platform tracks upstairs, and regular 8 inch platforms downstairs for all that brawny Capitol Corridor iron. Nobody's laughing except the blogosphere.

And we have those sexy mini-high platforms, those surely ought to find a use somewhere on the HSR system?

DBX said...

These Peninsula NIMBYs ought to be careful for what they wish for. If they get really awkward they will find themselves very isolated if HSR avoids them completely by serving the East Bay.

The lesson of what happened in London with Eurostar is instructive. British Rail's original plan in 1988 was to build through London's southeastern suburbs, into the international terminal at Waterloo that was then under construction. Middle and upper-middle NIMBYs had a fit. And the Thatcher government deferred the construction start date by several years.

As a dedicated HSR line would not be ready by the Channel Tunnel opening, the Eurostar trains were ordered to fit the existing commuter network electrification -- 750V third rail much like the BART as well as 25KV overhead for France, and for when Britain eventually got its act together.

The opposition in South London merely intensified, but in the aftermath of Margaret Thatcher a new strain of Tory emerged under John Major's rather low key premiership -- politicians like Michael Heseltine and John McGregor who were more concerned with renewing East London than appeasing NIMBYs. One consulting firm with a lot of urban renewal projects, Arup, presented a proposal for an East London route in 1990, which found favor with the key people in the John Major government. Thus was the line routed through east London instead of south London, mostly on the Arup route, to a fabulously renovated St. Pancras, at greatly increased expense, and it now forms the basis of Britain's Olympic hosting for 2012 and a long overdue renewal for East London. Arup even took an equity stake in the high speed line itself. The switcheroo on routes delayed the project by seven or eight years, but it is ultimately better for the majority of people using the service.

And the punchline? The moment St. Pancras opened, Eurostar not only pulled all services from Waterloo but also dramatically cut back services to Ashford, a key regional hub for the far southeast of England that could have been a useful access point to Paris and Brussels trains for south Londoners because of its wide choice of regional rail connections. Ashford ended up with just three trains a day to Paris and none to Brussels. This left South London's well-heeled NIMBYs with little choice but to battle the Tube and Thameslink to get to St. Pancras, or else driving to the park-and-ride Eurostar station at Ebbsfleet. And now the NIMBYs are upset about being left high and dry, and no doubt a good many of them, sitting in higher tax brackets, have effectively seen their taxes go up to pay to have the line rerouted away from them.

I'm curious as to the possibility of history repeating itself in California, with CAHSR being routed up the East Bay if the NIMBY situation in the Peninsula gets too complicated.

By the way, I'm not sure if San Jose would be able to get by with just two tracks for HSR. Eight seems excessive, but bear in mind even intermediate stations on Eurostar like Calais Fr├ęthun, Ashford and Ebbsfleet have as many as six platforms. If some trains don't stop at San Jose, they need the flexiblility to bypass and jump the queue on those that do; if all trains stop at San Jose, the dwell time at the platform at peak frequency would cause delays on a two track station and effectively waste slots.

Anonymous said...

Let the HSR go to Oakland. But I suggest that Sacramento better matches up with the Tehachapis detour.

Adirondacker said...

San Jose, a simple through-station where two HSR platform tracks would do, is being planned as a fancy double decker station with a slew of dedicated HSR platform tracks upstairs, and regular 8 inch platforms downstairs for all that brawny Capitol Corridor iron. Nobody's laughing except the blogosphere.

I'm sure it raises a giggle or two at the FRA and FTA.

I've seen the plans. Comical. Six tracks should do. I should consider it more seriously. When I need a good laugh I look at the satellite views of SFO and Millbrae. Since it was built someone thought that was a good idea.

These Peninsula NIMBYs ought to be careful for what they wish for.

They've pointed out that San Jose is California's third largest city and HSR will never pass them by, usually in the context of how much better Altamont is. I point out that Allentown PA is Pennsylvania's third largest metro area and doesn't have any train service at all.

If some trains don't stop at San Jose, they need the flexibility to bypass and jump the queue on those that do.

Just because there is a platform there doesn't mean the train has to stop. Bypass tracks would be nice but not required. Happens all the time. YouTube is fairly lousy with things like this.
I pick that one because there's a nice shot of the radar gun at the end. Not that HSR will be going that fast in San Jose.

arcady said...

Bypass tracks matter at stations on high speed sections. The track layout around San Jose limits speeds to somewhere under 60 mph, so it's more like Beckenham Junction (an arbitrary station with two through platforms south of London on the third rail network), and less like Calais or Ebbsfleet.

Adirondacker: when they point out that San Jose is California's third biggest city, they're saying it's third behind Los Angeles and San Diego, and has a larger population than San Francisco. They're kind of envious that despite the larger population, they're much less important in every other sense than SF. That's a big part of what the BART to SJ project is about: they think having a real subway will make it a real city.

Alon Levy said...

In what world is BART a real subway?

Bay Area Resident said...

I think the problem with San Jose is that the San Jose business community (which includes ALL of Silicon Valley sunnyvale, Palo Alto, Mtn View and San Jose) designated as the "Silicon Valley Leadership group" sees this train as a way to deal with the housing issues for workers in all these companies. Basically executives want to stop paying 1.5 times what everybody else in the country makes to all workers who work at their bay area companies. So they are the ones lobbying for San Jose. If it were just San Jose alone, even with Diridon, there would have been NO WAY this Pacheco route would have been chosen. it was Silicon Valley business that made the selection. As far as I know most residents of San Jose are not happy about the route and some communities like Edenvale will be destroyed. Anyway as I pointed out earlier somewhere, San Jose is moving the HSR route for some of these SJ towns- which is easier to do since freeways are so abundant in SJ right near the Caltrain. Not sure why SJ is successful in lobbying HSR to move, maybe it makes it easier for Diridon to claim that only a few rich people on the tracks are complaining (although many of the towns in SJ impacted are not low income- only the area right around Diridon is from what I can see).

Anonymous said...

BART is a bastardized NYC subway - botched with Indian broad gauge and a weird 1000vdc propulsion voltage. BART was so ashamed at building a railroad they called it a "duorail".

Adirondacker said...

so it's more like Beckenham Junction.

I like to compare it to my experiences at Penn Station in Newark NJ. Though San Jose will never be Newark. Trenton maybe? Wilmington?
Newark gets by with 6 tracks for NJ Transit and Amtrak. Pennsylvania Railroad put some though into it, cross platform transfers to PATH inbound and relatively easy transfers from PATH via ramps or stairs outbound. Light rail neatly integrated in the subway and lots of buses. . . and amazingly the commuter trains and the long distance trains have the same platform height and the same electrical system and compatible signals...

BART is a bastardized NYC subway.

More a botched Chicago EL. One with only one set of tracks through downtown and no express tracks. And the El doesn't try to serve far flung suburbs, it leaves that to METRA.

Anonymous said...

For those who made light of my concerns that people who will have the HSR elevated practically in their bedrooms will have to worry about surveillance, I refer them to the current edition of Trains Magazine. It reports that Amtrak has recently adopted the policy that it is prohibited to take photographs from station platforms.

Caltrain corridor residents shouldn't need to have to worry about who's watching their every move. Move the HSR to 101 where Big Brother can snoop on the motorists smogging up the place.

Bianca said...

@Anonymous 9:30pm:

For starters, Amtrak isn't going to be running HSR. But even so, please take a look at Amtrak's Photography Policy. It states quite clearly "The taking of photographs and/or videos is permitted within public access areas on Amtrak property". Go read the whole thing; nowhere does Amtrak pretend to restrict people from photographing Amtrak from their own private property.

The notion that people who own property along the ROW will be subject to surveillance, or having to seal their windows, or be unable to take photos in their back yard, for reasons of track security is ridiculously Orwellian and not to be taken seriously.